Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 18 – “Very, very …”

OK.  Enough.  It was very, very cold yesterday.  I know as a writer you are not supposed to use the word “very.”  Too many other, more descriptive choices out there in the world of flower-li—dom.  So in this case let me say … it was very, very cold yesterday.  I have worn both of my long sleeved shirts now.  Nothing new to show off there.  And this whole wearing socks every day is just weird.  Isn’t it time to get back to the nice, tropical, wintry 70’s?

Chris received a phone call from Christina.  Actually they text all the time, so it might have been that.  They take turns being Mom to Kel.  This time there was a bit of a crisis that was going to require both of their Mommy skills.  Kel cut his finger very, very badly at work, and needed a ride to an urgent care clinic.  Now you have to understand the “why” of their Mommy instinct kicking in here.  Ever since he was a little kid Kel has been very, very good at passing out whenever there is blood involved.  He’s a master at crashing when a needle enters the picture.  Christina was prepared to drive all the way down here, all five kids in tow, drop them off with us, and go be with Kel.  Chris suggested that she stay off the icy roads and let us brave the winter blast and meet him instead.  Christina agreed with that solution.  She just wanted someone to put eyes on him.

We picked him up at the post office parking lot.  No one there even offered to drive him, which I’m pretty sure is a breach of protocol.  If not … it should be.  Especially when we found out the circumstances surrounding the gash.  Seems the door of his post office vehicle was frozen shut (Told you it was very, very cold).  When it finally broke free, his finger was pinched between the door and the latch.  Ouch. 

He did really well with the repair work on his finger.  Four stitches.  Probably would have been more, but his fingernail was involved, so they couldn’t get the needle under it to sew the skin back.  Instead they crammed it together and wrapped it up very, very tight.  He handled it like a trooper: Pre-emptive attack.  Drank some Gatorade.  Stayed flat on his back with his knees up.  And he never did pass out.  He told Christina later that it helped having his mother in the room.  Her presence kept him from cussing when the pain got very, very bad.  Hey, Mom, all your hard work paid off. 

On the way back to the post office we stopped by Nathan’s to get a gift he had for Kel.  Something to keep his head and face warm out in the cold.  But as we left his house, driving down the road, we heard a small crash.  We recognized the sound easily enough.  Ice falling from the car.  I told you it was very, very cold.  What we didn’t realize until we got back home was … the ice that fell off also grabbed and took with it a very, very large portion of our car’s paint job.  Now our black car has a section of white-ish, gaping ugliness.  We were very, very sad.  Painting the whole car would be several thousand dollars.  I’d just as soon spring for a new car.  Or maybe we can pick up a can of spray paint at WalMart …

Psalms 27:4 says, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

Father, thank you for protecting Kel and getting him through this crisis of very, very’s.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17 – “Galveston Snowpocalypse III”

I sent a text this morning to our worship pastor.  Wanted him to stay inside and not get out into the horrifying sub-30 degree weather today.  It was 25 degrees when I woke up.  Last night we saw plenty of sleet, and finally witnessed seventeen snowflakes.  That's the third time this winter we have seen actual snow.  It was quite difficult to count them all, though.  They were being pummeled and tossed and whipped through the air by the torrential winds (Can winds be torrential, or is that just rain?).  All that was gone when I got up.  It was just still.  Oh, and cold.  So very cold.  It is supposed to slowly climb above freezing by noon, but just barely.  Here’s the transcript of our text series:

Me: “Galveston Snowpocalypse III – no meetings.  Even the bug guy canceled.”

Jim: “?”  (Actually, his question mark was inside a little box.  Very cool looking, but I don’t know how to duplicate it)

Me: “Well, to start with, this is Pastor Kelley.  I was born and raised on a small tropical island near the coast of Texas.  It gets cold here when the thermometer reads 60 or so.  Anything below 40 is a crisis.  Below 30 is a catastrophe.  That said … check your thermometer.  The guy who sprays for roaches canceled his appointment to spray at Seaside because it was just too cold.  You can’t argue with the bug guy.  We won’t be meeting at the church today.”

Jim: “Now where I’m from it’s just another early spring morning.  But I guess I am getting weak in my age.” (Note: He’s from way up north … Oklahoma)

Me: “Be careful.  Liking the cold almost makes you a Yankee around here.”

I think Jim would have less occasion to use his little question mark in a box if he would just make me one of his contacts so he would know who the text is from (I really do want to know how he makes that, though).  Then he could just skip straight to the thumbs up or even the wide grin happy face emoticon that he finally closed out the conversation with. 

Psalms 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?”

Father, thank you for the cold weather.  It cleans out the bugs and allergens and gives us a great reason to appreciate the warm weather we enjoy most of the year. Amen.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January 16 – “Skee-ampion”

Monday.  As usual, I spent the morning wading through my Monday checklist for work.  I try to get as much as possible done so I can spend the rest of the week focusing on the teaching.  Meanwhile we were following closely the trials of young Micah.  He smacked his teeth at the bounce house on Sunday and apparently broke one below the gum line.  He had to see a dentist and an endodontist.  The dental future does not loom pretty for poor Micah. 

Lauren stopped by after lunch to drop off a gift for Cailyn.  Those two are each other’s “Little Buddy.”  We talked for a long time about dogs and cats and vets.  Amazing how often the conversation winds toward those categories when Freddy is around, pacing or whining or flat out jumping in laps, begging for attention. 

Last night we met up with Cailyn to do some more birthday celebrating.  Oh, her parents were there, too.  So were the LaMarque Cousins.  For such a crowd we had to arrange for a slightly larger venue.  Chuck E. Cheese filled that bill just fine.  The adults munched at pizza and salad.  The kids played games.  Well, wait a minute.  I have to say I did see Kel and Christina, as well as Nathan and April struggling to fight off the Jurassic Park evil self-replicating dinosaurs.  And April?  Well, she led Nathan all over that place in a search for dominance at every turn.  She couldn’t stand up to the master at one game, however.  Good old-fashioned skee ball.  Oh, she didn’t do poorly.  It’s just that she couldn’t hang with Mr. 22,000 Average.  That guy was the best I have ever seen.  Consistent.  Creative.  Just … really good.  Maybe I’ll give her some lessons next time.  Er … I mean … maybe HE will give her some lessons …

We made it home in plenty of time to beat the impending doom of snowpocalypse.  Once we got over the causeway I knew we were safe.  All of Southeast Texas was already shutting down, though.  Even the Galveston schools announced closures for today.  Just the anticipation of an event involving cold is more than we can handle down here.  We’ll see how it all plays out.

Psalms 25:8-9 says, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

Father, protect those folks who do have to get out in the weather over the next day or two.  Amen.

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 15 – “The birthdays”

Well, imagine that.  I’m older than I thought in more ways than one.  Today is my birthday as a believer.  Not my regular birthday.  That’s in August.  This is more of an anniversary, I guess.  It was way back in 1971, my senior year in high school that I finally “got it.”  I finally understood that God isn’t stuck in a box behind the altar up at the church.  He was alive and active and actually wanted to have a personal relationship with me.  Wow.  Now, it has taken me the better part of those 47 years to understand that God doesn’t live in some box I have constructed in my head, either.  He doesn’t have to conform to what I think he should do or be like.  He’s wild that way.  That’s what makes having a relationship with him so exciting.  Think I’ll go for another year.  You never know what he may have in store …

Well, happy birthday to Cailyn, too (one of the many things we have in common).  We went to her birthday party yesterday after lunch at Pit Stop Barbeque with some Seaside friends.  The party was an interesting one.  She combined forces with her best friend at school who also has a birthday this week.  Anticipating a rather large crowd, the event was held at the fire fighter’s union hall.  Plenty of room for the onslaught of eight and nine year olds.  The union even has a big blow-up bounce house in the shape of a fire station.  Very creative.  It certainly held the kids’ attention for the few hours we were there.  Oh, and the pizza.  And cupcakes.  And cookies.  Then the girls all headed off to the BFF’s (Is that still a thing?) house for a slumber party.  Did I get that right?  Girls have slumber parties.  Guys have sleepovers.  It all seemed to go off without a hitch.  Oh, and April, being the great Mom that she is, spent some time with her friends (after the little girls left, of course) making sure that the gifts Cailyn received all were in proper working order.  Plus she made sure that Cailyn wouldn’t be hindered in her play efforts by such annoying things as packaging.  Nothing had been broken yet by the time we left, but the big girls sure seemed to be having fun.  So, Cailyn, if you have any operational questions about your new gifts, I know who you can ask …

Pslams 25:6-7 says, “Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.  Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.”

Father, thank you for 47 of the best years imaginable.  And thanks for Cailyn.  She’s really growing up.  Draw her to yourself so she can have more than 47 under her belt by the time she’s my age.  Amen.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 14 – “A philosophical moment”

We experienced a Texas Saturday yesterday.  No, I don’t mean we rode horses (we used the car) or slapped on our ten gallon hats (Mine is a cap that reads Galveston Fire Dept) or tended our personal oil wells (Got nothing on that one.  No oil well here).  Nope.  A Texas Saturday just means we had to drive across the causeway and into Texas.  We left the safety and security of the Island.

And why would we dare to do something so dangerous?  Oh, a few reasons.  First off, we went to Ezra’s first birthday party.  He was actually born in December, but with Christmas and all, his party got shoved back a month.  Not sure how that plan will go over when he gets a little older.  It wasn’t a huge affair (well, he has three brothers and a sister, so just the immediate family makes a crowd).  But the grandparents were there, a cousin or two, and even one little guy from their church. 

After cake and ice cream, I left Chris on site and headed deeper into Texas territory to visit Seasider Dave who is recuperating at a rehabilitation hospital after a stroke just after Christmas.  He had just had a visit from his wife and his dog, so I was certainly well down on the priority list of his Saturday log.  He is doing much better physically than even last week when I checked in on him.  He still has a long way to go with physical and occupational therapy before they can talk about when he can leave the facility.

After we prayed together I headed back toward Ezra’s house.  We were pretty low on gas, so I stopped to fill up.  That’s where I had one of those philosophical moments.  Scary, huh?  Just walking from the pump to the cashier (no paper in the receipt generator), I had no less than four people step aside or hold the door for me or quite pleasantly greet me.  Respect is an amazing thing, and I don’t receive it lightly.  My philosophical moment, however, involved speculation on just why the respect occurred in the first place.  Was it just because sometimes you can hit a pocket of nice people in Texas?  Maybe.  Or was it the Astros championship t-shirt I was wearing?  Lots of comradery there, for sure.  I thought perhaps it was the fire department cap.  People have a lot of respect for fire fighters, don’t they?  But then I figured it out.  At least I’m pretty sure this is where they were coming from.  Why the respect?  Why the kindness?  Because I’m a gray-headed, white-bearded, feeble-looking old guy who may not be able to get that door open without help.  Hmm.  OK.  Philosophy never was my long suit.

Just as I arrived back at the house Kel was on his way to jump his car and take it to WalMart to get a new battery.  I followed him and Micah and Josiah.  After the initial “It’ll be about 30 minutes” we returned to the auto section (We spent that time roaming the toy department and the electronics wing.  Big WalMart).  Upon our return we were told that it was going to take “a while.”  Kel tried for a bit more specific answer, so he got one: “A long while.”  Great.  Wish he had decided that 45 minutes ago.  We went on back to the house and had some of Christina’s great taco soup.  Christina’s Dad volunteered to take Kel back up when the car was ready, so Chris and I finally headed back to Galveston, our Texas Saturday at a close. 

Psalms 25:4-5 says, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Father, thank you for young Ezra.  Grant him a happy life.  Amen.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January 13 – “Unbridled”

Here’s a little story I have been saving for when my day was particularly boring.  It happened a while back at church.

I had a little visitor kid take to me at church.  That sometimes happens.  First he approached me while we were singing.  I squatted down to see what he wanted, and he took my face in his hands.  He almost got distracted playing with my beard, then asked if he could please have a donut.  Of course I told him it was all right with me, but he had to ask his mommy and daddy first.  He went straight to the donut holes, grabbed one and took off to daddy’s arms.  I followed to explain what I had told him.  They were fine with his special treat.  In fact Mommy wanted to pay for all the donuts right then and there.  Umm.  Nope. 

Later on he came back by me again and did a drive-by hugging of my leg.  Then he returned a third time and held his arms up for me to hold him.  Of course I did.  I can’t resist pleading eyes in a little kid any more.  Don’t have to.  I’m a granddad.  And when I scooped him up, he grabbed me in the biggest hug I have received in a long, long time. 

Well, here’s the thing.  He wouldn’t let go.  Dad came over and tried several times to take him, but he held on tight.  And then good ol’ Dad had a brainstorm.  Bribery.  He came over and popped a donut hole in the little guy’s mouth.  Magic.  Suddenly Dad is the hero of the hour.  The youngster went right to him.  So much for the allure of the bearded one, the grandfatherly figure, the kindly old pastor.  Can’t compete with a donut hole.

Psalms 24:1-2 says, “The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

Father, thank you for the unbridled expression of love that only a child can pull off effectively.  Amen.

Friday, January 12, 2018

January 12 – “Windfall”

Chris disappeared on me yesterday.  Well, not disappeared actually.  I knew where she was.  She safari-ed into Texas to take care of some of the LaMarque kids while their Mom took others of them to the doctor.  Everything is OK medically.  Unless, of course you take the perspective of Ezra who received four shots.  He wasn’t all that happy with the world around him.  Jachin did take a comfortable position on the table for the shot he got.  He has his father’s tendency to pass out whenever needles are involved, so he has learned to be proactive. 

I stayed at home and kept working on the sermon for Sunday.  Made some pretty good strides, too.  And in between I even managed to make a quick trip to the bank to make a deposit.  Speaking of deposits, the mail lady delivered our latest bank statement.  And it didn’t reconcile with what I had in my records.  Not usually a good thing, right.  I waded right in to find the discrepancy.  It took a while, but guess what?  Back in December for some insane reason I flat out forgot to record … a deposit.  That’s right, a deposit.  No idea why.  I just spaced it completely.  I gotta tell you, it’s not often there is an error more than a few pennies here and there (usually because of my bad math skills or because I transposed some digits).  But this one.  I felt like I was in a Monopoly game and just drew the “Bank error in your favor” Community Chest card.  Only it wasn’t the bank’s error.  It was mine.  Three hundred dollars.  Totally unaccounted for - for an entire month.  How’s that for a New Year’s windfall? 

Psalms 23:5-6 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Father, financial windfalls are great.  But thank you for the spiritual windfalls you have in store for us all the time.  Amen.